Sunday, December 1, 2013

Composting the Story

This Autumn I have lived very much in the moment. Particularly on a daily basis, through my camera lens. Everyday the focus was on getting the next picture for my 365 project, hoping it would be even better than the photo the day before. In this single minded focus somewhere along the way I lost my inner voice, that voice I rely on to write.

Now don't get me wrong my daily pursuit of my photography this Autumn has been more than worthwhile. I have learned so much about myself, my photography style, and yes how to get a better photograph. But when I am really honest with myself, for me photography is only half of what makes me whole. I need the words, the story, as much as I need the photograph.

I didn't realize how much I was missing that inner voice until I started reading Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones. This book has been sitting on my bookshelf next to my bed for nearly a year now, but I always think you can't really read something until you are ready to listen to what it has to say.

When I got to Natalie's chapter on Composting these words of her's really struck a chord with me:

"Our senses by themselves are dumb. They take in experience, but they need the richness of sifting for a while through our consciousness and through our whole bodies. I call this "composting." Our bodies are garbage heaps: we collect experience, and from the decomposition of the thrown-out eggshells, spinach leaves, coffee grounds, and old steak bones of our minds come nitrogen, heat and very fertile soil. Out of this fertile soil bloom our poems and stories. But this does not come all at once. It takes time. Continue to turn over and over the organic details of your life until some of them fall through the garbage of discursive thoughts to the solid ground of black soil."

This is what I had been missing; that reflective time, the composting, the sifting of experiences to make rich, fertile black soil in order to grow words, grow stories.

I feel that December is always that month of reflection, a time to look back over this past year, the time and place to sift through our experiences. I am going to be doing some composting this month and see what black soil emerges.


  1. Loosing voice becomes common among people who live though the lens. I know this one well too. Its only when I take the time to be quite with my thoughts and rested all at the same time.. not with my camera in hand.I may have a light bulb moment.. :) I guess thats just me . I really enjoyed your blog.

  2. I too am veering slowly towards the reflective I'm reading Rilke again and also ruminating maybe we could start a safe writing group ?

  3. Beautiful post. Love your images and thoughts.

  4. Love this post. Last year I gave myself a 365 project as well and found that it helped me through a really tough time. I hope your month of reflection gives you everything you need.

  5. Looks like a wonderful start to your writing...